April 20, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s top defence official has called on the international community and the United Nations to put pressure on Tamil Tiger rebels to lay down arms and surrender. He said the latest influx of refugees from the small strip of land remaining under rebel control showed the civilians wanted to escape from the Tigers, contrary to rebel propaganda that they wanted to stay. Defence ministry secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said the Tamil Tigers should be told to give up at least at this stage as they are surrounded on a small strip of land on the north-east coast by security forces.
Rajapaksa has said that the army has been able to rescue over 30,000 civilians during the last 24 hours.
Rajapaksa said an exact time frame for the completion of the evacuation mission cannot be given.
This was because of the delicate nature of the operations to free civilians without any harm from the Tiger grip, he said.
Rajapaksa also said there was a danger of infiltration by the Tigers hiding among civilians which the military has to prevent by screening these who escape.